American work wear brand Banana Republic, worn by Olivia Palermo and the Duchess of Cambridge,has announced that after eight years on British shores itis closing all of its eightUK stores.
"After a thorough evaluation process, the company has decided to close eight Banana Republic stores in the UK,"a spokesperson said for the brand, which is owned by Gap Inc. "The company anticipates that the majority of the stores will close by the end of fiscal year 2016.???UK shoppers will still beable to shop online at Bananarepublic.com.
This follows a string of disappointing sales results for the retailer- inAugust it announced a drop of 9 percent in sales for the second quarter of 2016, which isthe sixth quarter it has been in decline.
"Banana Republic arrived in the UK in 2008 with much fanfare on the eve of the financial crisis and unfortunately for the group its British debut was timed just as the British retail market changed forever," saysAshley Armstrong, The Telegraph"s retail correspondent, about what contributed to the closures."Firstly, the recession transformed shoppers into bargain hunters who either turned to the likes of Primark or waited for the sales to make their purchases."
"Secondly, the rise of smartphone usage has caused a boom in online shopping which has meant that physical stores have suffered from a drop in footfall,"Armstrong continues:"Thirdly, the market has become tougher thanks to intense competition from the likes of Zara ??? these factors created a perfect storm that Banana Republic was unlikely to weather with just eight stores."
Another factor, of course, is the product offering which has failed to stay relevant and compete in an increasingly competitive sphere, which is a similar story to its struggling parent brand Gap.Banana Republic aimed to modernise working wardrobes, but eight years after arriving in the UK hasa tired, dated image without the same contemporary, edited feel as the likes of competitorsCos and Finery.
Ithoped to turn this aroundin September when it namedOlivia Palermoits first everwomen???s global style ambassador.As part of the partnership the street style starfronted the ad campaign, as well as edited a capsule collection of her key buys.
"When Banana Republic opened in the UK it was an exciting addition to the high street - and somewhere that had always been a destination for Brit shoppers in the US," comments The Telegraph"s Senior Fashion News and Features Editor Victoria Moss."It offered great workwear classics and simple pieces that worked well.I had a black jersey summer dress I lived in, as well as a brilliant camel trench coat.It was like a high street version of Joseph."
"But over the years the quality seemed to have depreciated - although the prices certainly haven"t- and items that might have once been classed as those essential classic items never moved on, and become staid, boring, and well, a little old fashioned.The British high street is a highly competitive arena, arguably you can pick up those same work wear pieces at Zara, Massimo Dutti or Cos - for better value, and with more of a fashion-bent to them.Walking into Banana Republic felt like going back to the Nineties, but not in a good way."beautiful workwear buysTelegraph Fashion Director Lisa Armstrong"s workwear tips